History of geology namazu the earthshaker circle k gas station locations

######

Namazu can be controlled only be the god Kashima, whic h with help of a powerful capstone pushes the fish against the underground and in such doin g immobilized him. However the god sometimes got tired or is distracted from his duty and Namazu ca n move a bit and cause an earthquake.

Fig.2. The god Kashima immobilize with help of a capstone a guilty Namazu, demonstrating to a bunch of small catfishes, representing earthquakes of the past, the severe punishment for their behaviour ( here a similar depiction of other punishments). However the catfish tries to defend his behaviour as response to his envy to other fish species, m uch more appreciated and popular in the traditional Japanese cooking (figure from LEWIS 1985).

Already in the Tokugawa period (1603-1868) the giant catfish was as a river deity associated to natural disasters, not surprisingly caused by water like floods or heavy rainfall. In these early traditions however namazu acts often as a premonition of danger, warning people from an imminent catastrophe or by swallowing dangerous water-dragons prevents even disasters.

The dragon was a very old and powerful symbol imported from China and was in old times the main culprit of earthquakes, however during the 18th century, a giant Namazu gradually replaced the giant dragon in the popular imagination. This change from dragon to Namazu was minor, because dragons were also associated to water and rivers and so were closely related to the catfish in the popular imagination.

During the 19th century and after the earthquake of Edo (modern Tokyo) in October 1855 the wrongdoings of Namazu became more a punishment of human greed, it was believed that the catfish by causing havoc forced people to redistribute equally their wealth, in this role Namazu became yona os hi daimyojin, the "god of world rectification".

Fig.3. Namazu in the form of yonaoshi daimyojin perpetuating his harakiri (in Japanese " Seppuku namazu", 1855) – with his sacrifice he will provide gold and money, dropping from his belly, for the poor people (figure from University Vienna). Some of these depictions have also magical powers: whoever take them home will be protected from earthquakes and experience " 10.000 years of luck".

The classic images of Namazu (more than 300 are today known) were mainly a response of the Edo earthquake – by trying to depict also "positive aspects" (redistribution of wealth) of the earthquake the artists hoped to rise the morals of the survivors. Namazu was used also in satire, he is represented as a go od-for-nothing, a coward acting only when the gods are gone, a reference to the aristocracy and incompetent civil serva nts.

Fig.4. A Namazu, representing the earthquake of Edo (modern Tokyo) in October 1855, is attacked by peasants and concubines ( here a similar version), in the background help for the catfish is approaching – craftsmen, who will take profit of the reconstruction of the city. The earthquake of Edo, which killed thousand of inhabitants, coincided with the traditional " month without gods", believed a period when all of the gods gather in a secret temple. Taking advantage of the absence of Kashima, the coward Namazu rebelled and caused destruction and sorrows in the human world (figure from Wikipedia).

There are various versions of the myth with slight modifi cations; in so me narratives the god doesn’t use a rock, but a sword to nail the Namazu onto the ground. According to another version it is the god Kadori controlling the catfish, with the help of a giant and magica l pumpkin. Also the main villain can be represented by a gi ant eel – Jinshin-Uwo – or a giant earthquake beetle – Jinshin-Mushi.

14th century (3) 15th century (6) 16th century (15) 17th century (15) 18th century (33) 19th century (110) 20th century (96) 21th century (69) 23th century (2) A geologist riddle (25) Accretionary Wedge (9) Africa (16) Alps (46) Ancient times (48) Artwork (2) Asia (25) Austria (4) Boneyard (3) Botany (20) Cabinets of curiosities (6) Cartography (34) Cartoons and Earth Sciences (38) Cryology (28) Earth Science VS Pop Culture (168) England (34) Etymology (2) Europe (22) Exogeology (12) Expeditions (39) Field-Sketch (1) Forbes (2) Forbes Blog (9) Fossil Legends (28) France (10) Geo-Files (33) Geo-Quotes (1) Geological Catastrophes (77) Geological Maps (41) Geology (99) Geology and Society (208) Geomorphology (35) GeoMovies (8) Geomythology (41) Germany (15) Heretic geologists (122) Ice Age (19) Italy (44) Life as geologist (123) Mineral (4) Mineralogy (17) North America (35) Oceania (20) Paleoclimatology (18) Paleomammology (12) Paleontology (89) Prehistoric Monster Movie (10) Scandinavia (3) Schlockology (5) Scientific American Blog (6) Seismology (31) South Africa (3) South America (17) South Tyrol (19) Stratigraphy (72) Swiss (8) Tectonics (23) Today in Geohistory (54) Volcanology (46) Zoology (32)